President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, has described the education sector under former President Muhammadu Buhari as catastrophic.
He also said the administration of former President Buhari was the worst thing to happen to the country, lamenting that no government had ever given the education sector a paltry five per cent as the administration did.
He further noted with dismay that some lecturers had not collected salaries for about 30 months, while some had yet to collect the consequential adjustment paid about two years ago.
Speaking in an exclusive interview the ASUU boss advised President Bola Tinubu to ensure that the person he would appoint as the minister to oversee education sector was someone who knew what education was all about.
Asked to rate Buhari’s administration in terms of funding of the education, he said: “It was catastrophe, that was the worst that even happened to this country. There is no regime that had given five per cent to education but he did and even that five per cent was not monitored.
“As I speak today during that regime, University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, Ife, ABU get just eleven million per month for overhead cost.
”Meanwhile, my university (Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State) spent more than N20 million on diesel a month, UNILAG should spend not less than N50 million to N100 million on diesel a month but the government just gave N11 million. Here (Michael Okpara University), they gave N5 million and it’s hardly released.
“The take home pay of one senator is more that what you have as overhead cost of University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife. How will that run? That’s why we have the problem we have today, nobody is interested.”
Further asked what kind of minister of education he would recommend to Mr. President, Osodeke said: “Such a minister should be somebody who knows what a university is and who knows what education is. Two, it should be somebody who will have the interest of Nigerian pupil, young boys and girls at heart.
”Three, the person should be somebody who must have his family in Nigerian university system, secondary and primary schools, not somebody whose child is outside, you go and do matriculation and convocation there but you don’t have a child here.
“So those are some of the things that should be considered in appointing the next minister of education. A person who believes in Nigeria and not those who believe Nigeria does not exist, we must go abroad. ‘You have headache you go abroad, a president had toothache, he ran abroad for treatment.”
On ASUU’s expectations of the present administration, Professor Osodeke said: “If you have watched, most of the past leaders have really not given the attention to the education system for growth. That is why we are having these problems, especially the issue of funding.
“If you check in West Africa, Ghana, Cameron and even South Africa, no country gives less than 15 per cent of its budget to education but last year, we got 5.3 per cent and it has never gone beyond 10 per cent in the past ten years.
“So that’s the critical issue. In the early 60s and 70s, the regional government, especially the western region, was giving 30 per cent. In some countries, they give up to 30 per cent because of the importance of education, but here we don’t regard it.
”Do you know why? Because the children of those who should ensure that it is done are not in the country.
“The first six months of last year we paid $600 million as tuition fee to UK universities. If you multiply that, it is more than N200 billion. That is what we have been saying should be put in education every year to revamp it but they are not interested. So that is the reason we are having this.”